Harbour seal

Species profile

Name: the harbour or common seal (Phoca vitulina) is a true or earless seal.

Appearance: harbour seals are a brown, silvery-white, or grey colour. They can be recognised by their distinctive V-shaped nostrils.

Size: adults reach up to 1.9 metres long and weigh up to 170 kg. A thick layer of blubber under their skin helps to maintain their body temperature.

Diet: they typically eat fish such as salmon, anchovy, sea bass, herring, mackerel, cod, whiting, and flatfish. Occasionally they also eat shrimp, crabs, molluscs, squid, and even ducks!

Did you know: harbour seals are normally solitary but gather together in groups during the breeding season. During this time males gather underwater, turn on their backs, put their heads together, and call to attract females. The pups are born well developed and are capable of swimming and diving within hours. They are fed on their mother’s rich milk and grow rapidly -doubling in size in around 3 weeks!

Location: they are widely distributed along temperate and Arctic coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. Harbour seals are often found in harbours, bays, intertidal zones, and estuaries giving them their common name.

Where to see harbour seals

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see harbour seals in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Isle of Skye
Scotland
100%
very high
5.0
very good
2
reports
Moray Firth
Scotland
67%
high
3.0
good
6
reports
Isle of Sheppey
England
33%
low
3.7
good
3
reports

Photo credit: skeeze, under a Creative Commons license from Pixabay

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